The Ledes

Thursday, October 30, 2014.

Washington Post: "The U.S. economy grew at a 3.5 percent annualized rate between July and September, the government said Thursday morning, providing fresh hope that a wobbly recovery could be gaining some stability. The latest gross domestic product figure, released by the Commerce Department, slightly exceeded analyst predictions and caps America’s strongest six-month period of expansion since 2003."

Boston Globe: "Thomas Michael Menino, who insisted a mayor doesn’t need a grand vision to lead, then went on to shepherd Boston’s economy and shape the skyline and the very identity of the city he loved through an unprecedented five consecutive terms in City Hall, died Thursday. He was 71 and was diagnosed with advanced cancer not long after leaving office at the beginning of this year."

New York Times: "The Israeli authorities closed off all access to a contested holy site in the Old City here on Thursday for the first time in years, a step that a Palestinian spokesman denounced as amounting to 'a declaration of war.' The action came after Israeli forces shot and killed a Palestinian man who was suspected of involvement in an attempt on Wednesday to assassinate a leading agitator for more Jewish access to the site, which Jews call the Temple Mount and Muslims call the Noble Sanctuary. The closure prevented Muslims from worshiping at Al Aksa mosque, one of the three holiest sites in Islam." ...

     ... UPDATE. New Lede: "Under heavy pressure and the threat of new Israeli-Palestinian strife, Israel announced on Thursday that it would reopen a contested holy site in the Old City of Jerusalem on Friday morning, a day after closing it for the first time in years."

Guardian: "Nato aircraft have been scrambled to shadow Russian strategic bombers over the Atlantic and Black Sea and fighter planes over the Baltic in what the western alliance called an unusual burst of activity as tensions remain elevated because of the situation in Ukraine. In all, Nato said, its jets intercepted four groups of Russian aircraft in about 24 hours since Tuesday and some were still on manoeuvres late on Wednesday afternoon. 'These sizeable Russian flights represent an unusual level of air activity over European air space,' the alliance said."

Sports Illustrated: The San Francisco Giants are once again the champions of baseball. On Wednesday night, the Giants downed the Royals, 3-2, in Game 7 of the World Series in Kansas City to capture the team's third title since 2010."

The Wires

The Ledes

Wednesday, October 29, 2014.

TMZ: "Joan Rivers' daughter Melissa has retained a law firm that will file a major lawsuit over her mom's death ... TMZ has confirmed.... The firm -- Gair, Gair, Conason, Steigman, Mackauf, Bloom & Rubinowitz will file a medical malpractice and wrongful death lawsuit against the clinic where Joan stopped breathing and the doctors who were involved."

Public Service Announcement

Washington Post, September 17: "Artificial sweeteners might be triggering higher blood-sugar levels in some people and contributing to the problems they were designed to combat, such as diabetes and obesity, according to new findings published Wednesday in the journal Nature.

New York Times, September 1: "People who avoid carbohydrates and eat more fat, even saturated fat, lose more body fat and have fewer cardiovascular risks than people who follow the low-fat diet that health authorities have favored for decades, a major new study [financed by the N.I.H.] shows."

White House Live Video
October 30

The White House has no scheduled live feeds for today.

He Took the Money & Ran. New York Times: When Credit Suisse erroneously dropped $1.5MM in the business account of hedge-fund manager Joseph Galbraith, Galbraith kept the money & has moved to parts unknown. He has not completely disappeared as he's had contact with the New York Times (directly or indirectly): in an e-mail he called Credit Suisse's suit against him “ridiculous, bordering on laughable.”

Andrew Rice of New York: "Matt Taibbi, the star magazine writer hired earlier this year to start a satirical website for billionaire Pierre Omidyar's First Look Media, is on a leave of absence from the company after disagreements with higher-ups inside Omidyar's organization, a source close to First Look confirmed today. Taibbi's abrupt disappearance from the company's Fifth Avenue headquarters has cast doubt on the fate of his highly anticipated digital publication, reportedly to be called Racket, which First Look executives had previously said would launch sometime this autumn." CW: Ah, "creative differences." ...

     ... "UPDATE: Taibbi has left the company."

Ancient Grains! Jeez, people will buy anything. CW PS: Unless you're a scientist with specific knowledge about the benefits of ancient grains as opposed to say, oats, don't write in & bitch about my ignorance. We all have our pet peeves, rational & irrational. Fad foods -- in fact, fads in general -- are one of mine.

Washington Post: A "virtual autopsy" of King Tut suggests the boy king had "buck teeth, club foot and a pronounced overbite."

Stephen Colbert describes his workday:


No Surprise Here. Valerie Tarico of AlterNet, in Salon: "... online search traffic from behind closed doors in Jesusland suggests that the bad, nasty, sexual impulses righteous believers are trying so hard to shut down may be their own. And if Google search patterns mean anything, they’re not succeeding too well: studies consistently demonstrate that people in conservative religious states search for adult materials online far more often than people in blue states."

Jeffrey Frank reviews, for the New Yorker, a new biography of Nelson Rockefeller by Richard Norton Smith. The review is fairly entertaining & informative.

Michael Cieply of the New York Times: "... several of the companies behind 'Citizenfour' — which takes issue with Mr. Obama’s expansion of Bush-era surveillance, and his administration’s attempt to prosecute [Edward] Snowden for espionage — are led by some of the president’s close political allies. They include Harvey Weinstein, the Weinstein Company’s co-chairman, as well as Jeff Skoll, the founder of Participant Media, and Richard Plepler, the chief executive of HBO, who all have been major contributors to Mr. Obama’s political campaigns."

Washington Post: "President Obama's credit card was rejected last month at a restaurant in New York. 'I went to a restaurant up in New York when I was -- during the U.N. General Assembly, and my credit card was rejected,' Obama said Friday while signing an executive order to protect consumers from identity theft. 'It turned out I guess I don’t use it enough. They were -- they thought there was some fraud going on. Fortunately, Michelle had hers.'"

"Who's Gonna Stand Up & Save the Earth?" Not Stephen Colbert:

Novelist John Grisham recants his apologia for child porn. Good to know.

New York Times: "CBS announced a new subscription Internet streaming service on Thursday that allows people to watch its live television programming and thousands of its current and past shows on demand without paying for a traditional TV subscription. The new 'CBS All Access' service, costing $5.99 a month, is the first time that a traditional broadcaster will make a near-continuous live feed of its local stations available over the web to non-pay-TV subscribers. At its start, the live stream will be available in 14 markets in the United States." ...

... New York Times: "HBO announced Wednesday that it would start a stand-alone Internet streaming service in the United States in 2015 that would not require a subscription to a traditional television service, a move that intensifies the premium cable network’s growing rivalry with Netflix. Just hours after HBO unveiled plans for its new service, Netflix announced that its subscriber growth was slower than expected...."

Joe Coscarelli of New York: "Following its initial mercy killing at the hands of Jon Stewart, Crossfire was rebooted last year with Newt Gingrich and Van Jones to dismal returns..., CNN ... scrapped it for good today [October 15] so that Newt can spend more time with his animals — and hopefully run for president again."

Joe Concha of Mediaite: "A well-placed source tells me MSNBC will be announcing major programming changes sometime in the next month, including the cancellation of Ronan Farrow‘s afternoon program, Ronan Farrow Daily." CW: I've caught a few minutes of Farrow's show a couple of times, & it was clear the guy was in way over his head. His performance was as embarrassing as the Russert kid's, though he isn't an obnoxious bro in the Russert-kid mold. I'm not sure if the suits will ever figure out that legacies & children-of-famous-people are usually not the best & brightest, perhaps because a lot of the suits themselves are legacies.

Philip Shenon in Politico Magazine: "If even Robert Kennedy was a conspiracy theorist, it is hard to see how millions of other Americans will ever be convinced to accept that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone."

Bill Carter of the New York Times: "MSNBC has seen its ratings hit one of the deepest skids in its history, with the recently completed third quarter of 2014 generating some record lows."

Snowden, The Movie:

... AND, Snowden's girlfriend is living with him in a Moscow apartment. David Harding of the New York Daily News: "His girlfriend, Lindsay Mills, moved into his apartment in the Russian capital in July, a detail that was revealed in the new documentary, 'Citizenfour.'” ...

... George Packer of the New Yorker on Laura Poitras & making the film "Citizenfour." ...

... Steven Zeitchik of the Los Angeles Times discusses the film. He attended the premiere at the New York Film Festival, where the documentary got a rare standing O. CW: I'm kinda sensing that "Citizenfour" can best be described as "documentary as hagiography." And, yes, I'm definitely seeing an Oscar here. Call me an oracle.

 

 

A video for Marco I'm-Not-a-Scientist-Man Rubio & Bobby I'm-Not-an-Evolutionary-Biologist Jindal, & all their non-scientist Republican friends:

"An FBI wanted poster shows William Bradford Bishop Jr. The image on the left shows how Bishop would look now. (Getty)"Dan Morse of the Washington Post: "For nearly 40 years, the legend of Bethesda fugitive William Bradford Bishop Jr. carried an air of not just evil brutality but refined sophistication. This was a man suspected of killing his family with a small sledgehammer in 1976 and setting their corpses on fire. Then he vanished, taking with him fluency in five languages, the experience of a world traveler for the State Department, and a fondness for playing tennis, flying airplanes and drinking Scotch. There were alleged sightings: a public park in Stockholm, a restroom in Sorrento, Italy, a train station in Basel, Switzerland. Now, in a potentiality stunning development in the case — centered in a municipally owned cemetery in the northeastern corner of Alabama — remains that were exhumed Thursday may tell a different story. Bishop could be the heretofore unidentified man called John Doe, who was struck by a car while walking down a highway in 1981, a person who appeared to be homeless, who’d worn several layers of heavy, dirty clothes and weighed just 155 pounds." ...

... CW: If you like mysteries & enjoy reading about how they're unravelled, you should find this a compelling story. ...

... UPDATE. Unsolved Mystery. Washington Post: "Human remains recently exhumed from an Alabama grave are not those of the notorious fugitive William Bradford Bishop, who is accused of killing five family members with a small sledgehammer in Montgomery County in 1976 and setting their bodies on fire, law enforcement officials said Wednesday. The FBI said that DNA taken from the unidentified body in Scottsboro, Ala., on Oct. 9 did not match Bishop, who is a member of the Ten Most Wanted list." Original story further down this column. Thanks to Haley S. for the lead.

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Tuesday
Jun122012

The Commentariat -- June 13, 2012

CW: I was not going to write about Tom Friedman's prepostrous thesis du jour, but I did anyway. Here's my column in the New York Times eXaminer. The NYTX front page is here.

Garry Wills in the New York Review of Books: the 2012 election is important because "this election year gives Republicans one of their last chances -- perhaps the very last one -- to put the seal on their plutocracy." Read the whole post. Thanks to Peter S. for the link.

Bob Woodward & Carl Bernstein talk about reporting Watergate:

     ... There are more short video interviews, etc., on Watergate at this Washington Post page.

Neil Sinhababu: "if you're in an economy where there's massive unemployment and very little inflation, as you are, the Federal Reserve is to blame." CW: and I do.

Jeffrey Young of the Huffington Post: "One-tenth of one percentage point -- that's how much President Barack Obama's health care reform law will increase national spending on health care over 10 years so as to provide health insurance to almost 30 million who otherwise would not be covered, according to an independent government auditor."

Maureen Dowd covers the Jerry Sandusky trial. ...

... Jill of Brilliant at Breakfast was brilliant this morning. In a post on the overreporting of the Sandusky trial, Jill writes, "At a time when the Catholic Church is trying to hold undue influence over American health care policy regarding contraception, and when politicians from both sides of the political spectrum are giving this church all kinds of unwarranted deference simply because its clergy and its history claims some kind of direct conduit to the Great White Alpha Male in the Sky, I think it's worth asking what kind of moral authority a church hierarchy that has behaved like a massive criminal enterprise where child sex abuse is concerned can claim to have, and why anyone is even considering building policy around what these people want."

Mark Landler & Neil MacFarquhar of the New York Times: "With evidence that powerful new weapons are flowing to both the Syrian government and opposition fighters, the bloody uprising in Syria has thrust the Obama administration into an increasingly difficult position as the conflict shows signs of mutating into a full-fledged civil war. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said on Tuesday that the United States believed that Russia was shipping attack helicopters to Syria that President Bashar al-Assad could use to escalate his government's deadly crackdown on civilians and the militias battling his rule. Her comments reflected rising frustration with Russia...."

CW: we were discussing Jonathan Haidt the other day, & I wrote that I thought he was wrong on lotsa stuff. Comes now George Monbiot of the Guardian, who writes, "While the psychological findings [Haidt] presents are well-attested and thoroughly referenced, he offers not a shred of evidence to support his political contentions, either in the article or in his book. His claims are unsourced, unsubstantiated and plain wrong." More interesting: Monbiot argues that working-class people have not really turned to the right; they just don't vote.

Michael Stafford, an overwrought young man, announces he is leaving the Republican party because "the party has come unhinged.... Republican economic policies are also indefensible."

Matt Bai profiles former Sen. Bob Kerrey, who is running for Nebraska Senate after a 12-year hiatus, for the New York Times Magazine. ...

     ... If you read Bai, also read Alex Pareene of Salon, who does an excellent job of skewering both Bai & Kerrey: "It is incredibly instructive as a guide to the incredibly misguided priorities of the rich, moderate elite, and their very odd explanations for what, precisely, has gone wrong in American politics.... For Bai and Kerrey, the goal is the grand bargain itself. The grand bargain helps the system convince itself that the system works. Rich old moderates need to believe that only rich old moderates can save America."

Presidential Race

Reid Epstein & Byron Tau of Politico: "President Obama went on the offense against Republicans and their nominee Mitt Romney, pushing back on the often-repeated accusation that his administration has ballooned the country's deficit":

It's like somebody goes to a restaurant, orders a big steak dinner, a martini and all that stuff, then just as you're sitting down they leave and accuse you of running up the tab. -- Barack Obama ...

... Steve Kornacki of Salon has a smart commentary on Obama's "epicurean analogy."

Andrew Leonard of Salon: "The difference between Obama and Romney's spending plans is the difference between reality and fantasy."

Murray Waas & Christopher Rowland of the Boston Globe: "Stifling [an anti-gay-bullying] guide's publication was among steps that Romney and his aides took during his last year in [the Massachusetts governor's] office to distance the Republican governor from state programs designed to specifically support gays, lesbians, and bisexual and transgender people.... The move to block the bullying report immediately followed Romney's threat to shut down the Gay and Lesbian Youth Commission.... When he ran for Senate in 1994 against the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Romney boasted that he would be a more effective and outspoken proponent of gay rights than Kennedy...." ...

     ... Steve Kornacki: "The positions that Romney staked out in '94 and '02 put him in sync with the Massachusetts electorate, but what Mitt Romney the man actually thinks about gay issues is anyone's guess.... As a Republican president at the mercy of congressional Republicans, though, it's not hard to see how he'd approach the issue. Their agenda would be his agenda."

Kevin Drum: Romney lies because the media let him get away with it.

Andy Rosenthal thinks Willard is purposely confusing the facts to try to dance out of his "Who needs teachers & cops?" assertion. Rosenthal is probably right, but I think we should always bear in mind this possibility: Mitt Romney is not smart enough to understand economics.

Diane Ravich, in a New York Review of Books blogpost, eviscerates Mitt Romney's so-called education plan, which is a full right-wing, red-meat, extensive menu of policies to destroy public education. Read the whole post.

Right Wing World

Louie Gohmert, Goober Neurologist. Alex Seitz-Wald of Salon: "While most officials in Washington expressed concern for Commerce Secretary John Bryson after his seizure-induced car accidents this weekend, the inimitable Texas Republican Louie Gohmert used the health lapse to attack the Obama administration figure. 'That's who's in charge of keeping businesses going -- a guy who crashes his car from car to car,' the congressman told American Family Association Radio today. Gohmert also seemed to be skeptical of the news that Bryson had a seizure."

Local News

Josh Israel of Think Progress: "Even if Gov. Rick Scott’s (R-FL) administration prevails in its new lawsuit against the Obama administration, his efforts to purge voters before November's election still faces a major obstacle -- the county elections supervisors, including 30 Republicans.... Republican Ann McFall, county supervisor of elections for Volusia County, told ThinkProgress that the lawsuit does not have her support and she will not resume purging voters before the elections, regardless of the suit's outcome."

News Ledes

New York Times: "President Obama presented Israel's president, Shimon Peres, with America's highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, calling Mr. Peres 'the essence of Israel itself -- an indomitable spirit that will not be denied.'"

AP: "Federal prosecutors dropped all charges Wednesday against John Edwards after his corruption trial ended last month in a deadlocked jury."

AP: "Jerry Sandusky pinned down a foster child and performed oral sex on him, threatened to keep him from seeing his family if he reported what happened and then later told him he loved him, the accuser testified Wednesday. The man, now 25 and called Victim 10 by prosecutors, told jurors Sandusky assaulted him in the basement of the former Penn State assistant football coach's State College home in the late 1990s, then threatened to keep him away from his biological family."

New York Times: "Britain's coalition government came under renewed strain on Wednesday after its junior partner, the Liberal Democrats, threatened to withhold support for Prime Minister David Cameron's handling of events flowing from a failed bid by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation to take full control of BSkyB, the country's biggest satellite broadcaster." Guardian story here. ...

... Guardian: "Sir John Major has claimed Rupert Murdoch demanded his government change its policy on Europe or his papers would oppose him at the 1997 general election."

Arizona Daily Star: "Democrat Ron Barber will finish the congressional term of his former boss, former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. Barber soundly defeated Republican Jesse Kelly by about 7 percentage points in Tuesday's Congressional District 8 special election." ...

... Reuters has a rundown of some of yesterday's primary results.

New York Times: "A coordinated series of attacks struck Shiite Muslims in the capital on Wednesday morning as they began gathering to mark the death of a revered imam who was the Prophet Muhammad's great-grandson."

AP: "[An Israeli] government report released Wednesday harshly criticized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's decision-making in a deadly Israeli naval raid on a Gaza-bound ship two years ago, saying it was flawed and marked by superficial discussions." Haaretz story here.

He's Sorry He Lost Billions. AP: "JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon plans to apologize before members of Congress on Wednesday for a trading loss that has cost the bank more than $2 billion." ...

     ... New York Times Update: "JPMorgan Chase is 'likely' to try to recover compensation from executives responsible for a recent multibillion-dollar trading blowup, according to Jamie Dimon, the bank's chief executive. In testimony on Wednesday before the Senate Banking Committee, Mr. Dimon assured lawmakers that the bank's board was investigating the trading losses...."

The Hill: "Senate Democrats blocked a resolution introduced by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) calling for Attorney General Eric Holder to introduce an outside special counsel to investigate a number of recent military and intelligence leaks."

Orlando Sentinel: "The judge who revoked George Zimmerman's bond did so after he determined that it was 'apparent' that Zimmerman's wife had lied under oath, and clear that Zimmerman 'does not properly respect the law.' Circuit Judge Kenneth Lester revoked Zimmerman's bond on June 1, but his written order was filed Monday. In it, Lester lays out his rationale."

Monday
Jun112012

The Commentariat -- June 12, 2012

My column in the New York Times eXaminer is titled "Forget Democracy"; it's a comment on David Brooks' column. The NYTX front page is here.

** "The Rent-Seekers." Joe Stiglitz in Politico: No, most of the richest Americans have not earned their wealth through their innovations & other great contributions to society. "The U.S. is headed down the path that so many dysfunctional societies have traveled -- divided societies in which the rich and poor live in different worlds.

Economics Profs. Ben Polak & Peter Schott in the New York Times of "America's Hidden Austerity Program": "... there is something historically different about this recession and its aftermath: in the past, local government employment has been almost recession-proof.... The United States has ... seen unprecedented austerity at the level of state and local governments, and this austerity has slowed the job recovery." ...

... Paul Krugman: First, Mitt Romney ridiculed Obama for saying that we need more public employment: "He says we need more firemen, more policemen, more teachers. Did he not get the message in Wisconsin?" Afterwards, some commentators wondered, couldn't he have chosen different professions to ridicule? And the answer is no. When we talk about public workers, that's pretty much who we're talking about." With a chart! ...

... Binyamin Appelbaum of the New York Times: "The recent economic crisis left the median American family in 2010 with no more wealth than in the early 1990s, erasing almost two decades of accumulated prosperity, the Federal Reserve said Monday."

"There's broad agreement on platitudes." Jonathan Weisman of the New York Times: top Senators from both parties are starting to stir up efforts to stave off another fiscal crisis.

Kevin Drum on why President Obama caved on national security -- among other things, Congressional Democrats would not support less draconian measures.

Fareed Zakaria in Time: the U.S.'s "broken & obsolete" immigration laws have caused the country to lose its "exceptionalism" to more progressive countries like Canada & Australia, who welcome talented immigrants who can't get U.S. visas.

Jonathan Cohn of The New Republic on why the voluntary reforms some healthcare providers & insurers are making are not nearly as significant as reforms required by the Affordable Care Act.

Jonathan Karl, et al., of ABC News: Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) takes a tiny step toward ending the Norquist Reign of Terror.

There's a special election today in Arizona's 8th Congressional District for the seat Gabby Giffords vacated. The Democratic candidate, Ron Barber, whom Giffords endorsed, was ahead by 12 points in the most recent PPP poll. Caitlin Huey-Burns of Real Clear Politics has the story.

Presidential Race

The Secret Life of Willard Romney. Kasie Hunt of the AP: "Keeping his secrets, Mitt Romney tends to lift the veil on his finances and campaign only if the law says he must. The Republican presidential candidate refuses to identify his biggest donors who 'bundle' money for his campaign. He often declines to say who's meeting with him or what he's doing for hours at a time. He puts limits on media access to his fundraisers. And he resists releasing all of his tax returns, making just a single year public after facing pressure to do so."

Today, government at all levels consumes 37 percent of the total economy or GDP. If Obamacare is allowed to stand, government will reach half of the American economy. — Mitt Romney, economic speech, June 7, 2012

... it makes little sense and is frankly a bit foolish -- especially for a candidate whose signature legislative achievement as Massachusetts governor was to enact a health care law that at the state level included insurance exchanges, Medicaid expansion, an individual mandate and other provisions that he now claims extends the 'reach' of government. -- Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post

Vouchers! Trip Gabriel of the New York Times: "... as president, Mr. Romney would seek to overhaul the federal government's largest programs for kindergarten through 12th grade into a voucherlike system. Students would be free to use $25 billion in federal money to attend any school they choose -- public, charter, online or private -- a system, he said, that would introduce marketplace dynamics into education to drive academic gains.... Mr. Romney's policy seems closely inspired by a pro-voucher report issued in February by the conservative Hoover Institution. Five of eight members of a task force that produced the report are among the 19 education advisers the Romney campaign named last month." CW: in case you were wondering, this is all about undermining public schools while giving your tax dollars to for-profit corporations whose lobbyists have the GOP in their pockets.

Right Wing World

BuzzFeed: "Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush said [Monday] that both Ronald Reagan and his father George H. W. Bush would have had a difficult time getting nominated by today's ultra-conservative Republican Party.... Bush called the present partisan climate 'disturbing. It's just a different environment left and right,' he said of 'this dysfunction.' And Bush also blamed President Obama for much of the conflict." ...

... Jonathan Chait of New York magazine: "Bush is clearly engaged in an effort to position himself as the next leader of the Republican Party."

"Justifiable" Homicides. Joe Palazzolo of the Wall Street Journal: "While the overall homicide rates in those states [with "stand-your-ground" laws] stayed relatively flat, the average number of justifiable cases per year increased by more than 50% in the decade's latter half. In a new study..., Professor Mark Hoekstra and Cheng Cheng, use state-level crime data from 2000 to 2009 to determine whether the laws deter crime. The answer, they conclude, is no. In fact, the evidence suggests the laws have led to an increase in homicides." ...

... John Cole of Balloon Juice: "The bill passed in Florida [before any other state], and was immediately signed by Gov. Jeb Bush. Yes -- that would be the same Jeb Bush who is running around today bemoaning radical Republicans. You know, the same 'moderate' Jeb Bush who signed the laws giving him permission to insert himself into Terri Schiavo's marriage. They are all radicals." ...

... As John Nichols of The Nation noted in March: Jeb Bush "quickly signed the measure into law -- despite explicit and repeated warnings that this law would encourage shootings of innocents like Trayvon Martin. And despite explicit and repeated warnings that people of color and young people would be unreasonably and disproportionately harmed by the law."

Local News

AP: "Florida filed a lawsuit in a federal court in Washington D.C., demanding that the state be given the right to check the names of its registered voters against an immigration database maintained by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The lawsuit came the same day that the U.S. Department of Justice announced its plan to ask a federal court to block the state from pushing ahead with removing potential non-U.S. citizens from the voter rolls. Authorities contend that the state's effort violates federal voting laws."

News Ledes

Arizona Daily Star: "Democrat Ron Barber has a 9-point percentage lead on Republican Jesse Kelly, the first 154,000 votes counted in the Congressional District 8 special election show. The votes, which are early ballots, represent 37 percent of registered voters." ...

     ... Update: "The Associated Press has called the special election to replace Giffords for Barber...."

New York Times: "Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday strongly criticized the recent decision by Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. to appoint two United States attorneys to investigate recent disclosures of classified national security information, saying that the move was not enough and that he should appoint a special prosecutor."

New York Times: "George Allen brushed aside three conservative Republican rivals in the Virginia primary [for U.S. Senate], setting up a fall battle to regain the seat he lost in 2006.... Allen's victory sets up a November clash with another former Virginia governor, Tim Kaine, in a campaign closely tied to the presidential race in a battleground state both parties consider vital for victory." Washington Post story here.

AP: Former Penn State assistant football coach Mike McQueary testified against Jerry Sandusky today.

Orlando Sentinel: George Zimmerman's wife Shellie Zimmerman has been arrested on perjury charges in connection with her testimony at her husband's bondhearing.

The Guardian is liveblogging the Leveson Inquiry.

Washington Post: "The first witness in the Jerry Sandusky trial said the veteran football coach plucked him from a broken home at age 13 and turned him into an unofficial Penn State mascot.... But the good things came at a price, he said. Sandusky groped him in the shower during 'soap battles,' repeatedly forced him to perform oral sex and treated him like 'his girlfriend,' the witness said."

New York Times: "The Bronx district attorney's office said Monday that it was interested in hearing any reports of sexual abuse of students at the Horace Mann School, regardless of when they occurred, in an effort to address the rising concern about faculty behavior at the prestigious private school... after an article in The New York Times Magazine chronicled accounts of sexual abuse or inappropriate behavior more than a generation ago by three teachers, all of whom are now dead."

Washington Post: "Outrage escalated on the historic University of Virginia campus Monday over the abrupt ouster of President Teresa Sullivan by a governing board that offered few new details about why it had acted or what exactly had gone awry.... Sullivan learned of the board's wishes late Friday, after an annual executive retreat.... Sullivan had no inkling that her job was even in jeopardy...."

Guardian: "Syrian government forces and militia loyal to the Assad regime are killing and sexually abusing children and using them as human shields, the UN says, amid fears that the conflict is intensifying."

Politico: "The Federal Election Commission on Monday night unanimously voted to allow Americans to make political donations via text message, making Androids, iPhones and BlackBerrys the newest weapon in the battle to raise unprecedented amounts of money."

New York Times: "A controversial judicial commission has ruled that Pakistan's former ambassador to the United States, [Husain Haqqani,] secretly approached the Obama administration last year requesting help to stave off a possible military coup.... The court then issued an order for Mr. Haqqani, to return to Pakistan from the United States, where he has returned to a teaching job at Boston University. Legal experts said the former ambassador could face treason charges."

New York Times: ten thousand "demonstrators gathered in a drenching rain in central Moscow on Tuesday" in response to government efforts to crack down on protest demonstrations.

AP: "The dingo really did take the baby. Thirty-two years after a 9-week-old infant vanished from an Outback campsite in a case that bitterly divided Australians and inspired a Meryl Streep film, the nation overwhelmingly welcomed a ruling that finally closed the mystery. A coroner in the northern city of Darwin concluded Tuesday that a dingo, or wild dog, had taken Azaria Chamberlain from her parents' tent near Ayers Rock...."

Sunday
Jun102012

The Commentariat -- June 11, 2012

My column in today's New York Times eXaminer is titled "Liberals Remind Him of Nazis." The NYTX front page is here.

Government Is the Solution (And Liberals Should Say So). E. J. Dionne: "Let's turn Ronald Reagan's declaration on its head: Opposition to government isn't the solution. Opposition to government was and remains the problem. It is past time that we affirm government's ability to heal the economy, and its responsibility for doing so."

TARP o' Marks. In a blogpost, Paul Krugman explains what the Spanish bailout means: It "may -- may -- put a temporary end to the 'doom loop' of funds fleeing Spanish banks, forcing the banks to sell assets, driving asset prices down and creating further doubts about solvency." ...

     ... AND elaborates in his column: "Put it all together and you get a picture of a European policy elite always ready to spring into action to defend the banks, but otherwise completely unwilling to admit that its policies are failing the people the economy is supposed to serve.... Whatever the deep roots of this paralysis [in Europe & the U.S.], it's becoming increasingly clear that it will take utter catastrophe to get any real policy action that goes beyond bank bailouts. But don't despair: at the rate things are going, especially in Europe, utter catastrophe may be just around the corner."

Jill Lepore has a long, discouraging piece in the New Yorker on the Supremes: "However the Court rules on health care, the commerce clause appears unlikely, in the long run, to be able to bear the burdens that have been placed upon it. So long as conservatives hold sway on the Court, the definition of 'commerce' will get narrower and narrower, despite the fact that this will require, and already has required, overturning decades of precedent. Unfortunately, Article I, Section 8, may turn out to have been a poor perch on which to build a nest for rights." ...

... Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar of the AP: whatever the Court decides, health care providers and government officials can look forward to a messy, complicated implementation.

New York Times Editors: "The federal courts that have reviewed [the Defense of Marriage Act] since 2010 have found that it fails to meet the most elementary test of constitutionalismy." But Republicans keep defending it anyway.

The Washington Post has published another excerpt from David Maraniss's biography of President Obama. This one is about Barry's days as a basketball player at Punahou High, which had an outstanding team.

Kyrie O'Connor of Salon interviews Gail Collins about Collins' new book As Texas Goes....

Matthew Wald of the New York Times: "... the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee meets on Wednesday to consider President Obama's choice to head the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.... For the first time, the president has chosen a geologist for the post, Allison M. Macfarlane of George Mason University, and her expertise aligns with the pressing concerns facing Congress and the nuclear industry."

Ryan Lizza Is an Oracle. In a New Yorker feature, he speculates on what President Obama will accomplish in his second term.

LEAKS!

Grumpy McCain Is a Psychic. Ashley Killough of CNN: "Sen. John McCain continued his blitz against the Obama administration Sunday, saying the president was responsible for the recent national security leaks -- whether he knew about them or not. 'It's obvious on its face that this information came from individuals who are in the administration,' McCain said on CNN's 'State of the Union.' 'The president may not have done it himself, but the president certainly is responsible as commander in chief.'" ...

... Amy Davidson of the New Yorker on Obama's "press problem" & his penchant for whacking whistleblowers: "... the better way to achieve consistency would be to chase fewer leakers, not more. Instead, the Administration seemed overly alarmed by goading from Republicans like John McCain -- who talked about 'gravely serious breaches of our national security' and wanted not just any old investigation but a special prosecutor -- and treated this as a matter of pride. In trying to look tough, [the administration] gave into bullying, demanding to know who told rather than giving its own policies the hard look they need." ...

... New York Times reporter David Sanger reveals his source to Jake Tapper of ABC News:

Presidential Race

Seth Stephens-Davidowitz Googles racists to give a picture of how important racial animus was in the 2008 presidential election.

News Ledes

** Washington Post: "The nation's largest health insurer will keep in place several key consumer provisions mandated by the 2010 health-care law regardless of whether the statute survives Supreme Court review. Officials at UnitedHealthcare will announce Monday that whatever the outcome of the court decision -- expected this month -- the company will continue to provide customers preventive health-care services without co-payments or other out-of-pocket charges, allow parents to keep adult children up to age 26 on their plans, and maintain the more streamlined appeals process required by the law."

CBS News: "U.S. Secretary of Commerce John Bryson is being investigated in a felony hit-and-run case after allegedly crashing a Lexus into two vehicles in California on June 9, Los Angeles County police have confirmed." Los Angeles Times story here. ...

     ... AP Update: "Commerce Secretary John Bryson suffered a seizure in connection with two traffic accidents in the Los Angeles area that left him injured and unconscious, the government said Monday." ...

     ... New York Times Update 2: "By late Monday night, Mr. Bryson informed the White House that he would be taking a medical leave of absence to undergo tests and evaluation and that Deputy Secretary Rebecca M. Blank would assume his duties."

New York Times: "Starting four days of evidence by political leaders about the sway of Rupert Murdoch's newspapers over public life in Britain, former Prime Minister Gordon Brown spoke passionately on Monday about a 2006 story published in The Sun, a Murdoch tabloid, saying his infant son had cystic fibrosis, and denied that his family had given permission for it to appear." The Guardian's liveblog is here.

Saturday
Jun092012

The Commentariat -- June 10, 2012

My column in today's New York Times eXaminer is titled "What Ever Happened to Bradley Manning?" The NYTX front page is here.

New York Times Editors: "If you wanted to reproduce the conditions that led to the Great Recession in 2007, the easiest way would be the plan unveiled last week by House Republicans: gut the regulators who are supposed to keep the worst business practices in check." Read the entire editorial. CW: The nicest thing I can say about House Republicans is that they are corrupt, devious fuckers. And that would be my polite mode.

Get off the Dime, Ben! Christina Romer in the New York Times: "By law, the Fed is supposed to aim for maximum employment and stable prices.... The Fed is the only plausible source of immediate help for the American economy. It was set up as an independent body precisely so that somebody can do what's right when politicians can't or won't.... The academic literature shows that monetary policy can be very effective at reducing unemployment in situations like ours.

Peter Wallsten of the Washington Post has a long piece on President Obama's tense relationships with Hispanic & gay civil rights leaders.

One More Reason to Love Joe Biden. The Vice President invites the press and their families to his home at the Naval Observatory every year. My son's excuse for dousing David Brooks: 'Biden told me to!' -- Ben Smith of BuzzFeed

Robert Reich: "The public’s growing disdain of the Supreme Court increases the odds that a majority will uphold the constitutionality of Obamacare." CW: I happen to think Reich is being a cockeyed optimist here, but read his rationale & see what you think. Also, bear this in mind: the public likes the individual mandate even less than they like the Court. So, if Reich is correct, that John Roberts is concerned about the Court's unpopularity, wouldn't Roberts want to do the popular thing & squish the individual mandate?

Missed this story which Steve Benen highlights in "This Week in God": Laurie Goodstein of the New York Times: "... a group of Roman Catholic nuns is planning a bus trip across nine states this month, stopping at homeless shelters, food pantries, schools and health care facilities run by nuns to highlight their work with the nation's poor and disenfranchised. The bus tour is a response to a blistering critique of American nuns released in April by the Vatican's doctrinal office.... The bus tour is to begin on June 18 in Iowa and end on July 2 in Virginia. The dates overlap with the 'Fortnight for Freedom,' events announced by Catholic bishops to rally opposition to what they see as the Obama administration's violations of religious freedom."

Rosalind Helderman of the Washington Post: Senate Majority Leader Harry "Reid [D-Nevada] is now activating the vaunted Nevada Democratic machine he has helped build on behalf [of] Rep. Shelley Berkley. The seven-term Las Vegas congresswoman is challenging Reid's junior partner, Republican Sen. Dean Heller, for his job." Nevada offers "a rare opportunity for a Democratic pickup." The state's primaries are this Tuesday; both Berkley & Heller are expected to win easily.

Presidential Race

The Obama campaign runs a new Web ad hitting Romney for advocating the firing of teachers, firefighters & police:

News Ledes

Washington Post: "An increasingly effective Syrian rebel force has been gaining ground in recent weeks, stepping up its attacks on government troops and expanding the area under its control even as world attention has been focused on pressuring Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to comply with a U.N. cease-fire. The loosely organized Free Syrian Army now acknowledges that it is also no longer observing the truce, although rebel commanders insist they are launching attacks only to defend civilians in the wake of concerns generated by two recent massacres in which most of the 186 victims were women and children." ...

... Al Jazeera: "Violence is continuing in Syria, with activists reporting government assaults on the southern city of Deraa and Homs in the centre of the country. At least 52 civilians were killed around the country outside Damascus on Saturday, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Britain-based activist group."

AFP: "The IMF and US both praised a Eurogroup deal giving Spain a lifeline of up to €100 bn ($125 billion) to save its stricken banks, with International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde calling it a 'credible back stop' for the banking system."

Reuters: "Iran's state finances have come under unprecedented pressure and the resilience of ordinary people is being tested by soaring inflation as oil income plummets due to tightening Western sanctions and sharply falling oil prices. Tough financial measures imposed by Washington and Brussels have made it ever more difficult to pay for and ship oil from Iran. Its oil output has sunk to the lowest in 20 years, cutting revenue that is vital to fund a sprawling state apparatus."

AP: "Hosni Mubarak is slipping in and out of consciousness eight days after the ousted Egyptian leader was sent to prison to begin serving a life sentence, a security official said on Sunday. With rumors of the former president's death spreading rapidly, authorities granted his wife, former first lady Suzanne Mubarak, and the couple's two daughters-in-law special permission to visit him in Cairo's Torah prison early that morning."

AFP: "Queen Elizabeth II's husband Prince Philip celebrates his 91st birthday at home on Sunday, after five days of hospital treatment for a bladder infection sparked concerns about his health. The outspoken Duke of Edinburgh left London's King Edward VII hospital on Saturday, just in time for his birthday."